Article reprinted from Autosport Magazine 30 April 1965
Report by Brian Waddell
Photos by Brian Foley (except where noted)
CIRCUIT STAYS AT HOME
Paddy Hopkirk/Terry Harryman win Circuit of Ireland International Rally in a Mini Cooper S – Next four places to Ford Cortina G.T.s
DRIVING a Group 3 Mini-Cooper S on his home soil, Paddy Hopkirk, with Terry Harryman as his navigator, scored his first major win since the Monte Carlo in 1964 when he carried off the Ulster A.C. Trophy for the best overall performance in the Circuit of Ireland international rally, held over the Easter weekend. It is the fourth time that Hopkirk has won the Circuit of Ireland in a works car, his previous successes in the event being with Triumphs and Rootes. For Harryman it was the second year in succession to be in the winning car.
Into second place overall came Vic Elford and David Stone leading the team of works entered G.T. Cortinas who fought it out with Hopkirk for the lead from start to finish. Ford Cortinas in the hands of Roger Clark/Jim Porter, Brian Melia/Geoff Davies and Charlie Gunn/R. Foote filled the next three positions in the overall results, while the three works cars of Elford, Melia and David Seigle-Morris/David Michael carried off the team award.
The ladies’ award again went to Rosemary Smith and Shiela O’Clery who also took third place in the grand touring class for cars up to 1,300 c.c. with their Hillman Imp.
The touring rally, which was run in conjunction with the international event but which had manoeuvrability tests instead of special stages, was won by C. P. Bourke/ S. Cox in a 1275 Mini-Cooper S.
It was raining in Bangor on Good Friday night when exactly 100 cars climbed the starting ramp in the town to be cheered off by thousands of spectators who had gathered for the start of the event. With the entry seeded by the organizers, first off was last year’s winner Ronnie McCartney driving one of the three works entered Renault 1100s, to be followed by Hopkirk, Elford, Adrian Boyd in a Sunbeam Tiger entered by Alan Fraser, Seigle-Morris, Roy Fidler (Rover 2000), Roger Clark and then Peter Johnston, both in Cortinas. Rosemary Smith was seeded 37th followed immediately by Pat Barr/Jerry Smith (Mini-Cooper), the only other contenders for the ladies’ award.
From Bangor it was straight to the first special section of the rally held over the course of the Craigantlet hill-climb on the outskirts of Belfast and from there through six route checks and six time checks to the second special section over the road used annually for the Spelga hill-climb in the heart of the Mourne Mountains.
With both these stages being comfortably on for the leading cars there was little excitement as yet. Through another special section in Rostrevor Forest, the cars then visited another seven rather tight time checks before crossing the border between Northern Ireland and Eire, using the main Keady/Castleblayney road.
Seven more time checks before the leading cars arrived at the fourth special stage at Julianstown. Here Hopkirk was the only driver to be inside the standard time of 3 mins. 15 sec. for the hill, beating the bogey by a single second. Boyd in the Tiger was second, 10 secs. behind Hopkirk, while third were Morrison/Wilson in a Mini-Cooper.
There were two more special sections at Adamstown and Sally Gap before the cars reached the breakfast stop at Glendalough and the count started of those who had dropped out during the night. First missing was the Tiger of Adrian Boyd/Beatty Crawford which came unstuck on the Sally Gap, ploughing off the road at a considerable rate of knots and ending with the front end firmly embedded in the rocks. Before this Ian Woodside/Esler Crawford were forced out when a stone fractured the petrol tank of their M.G. Midget, while Norman Thompson was more than an hour late with his Hillman Imp, having spent considerable time in Rostrevor repairing the transmission with parts taken from a brand new Singer Chamois sitting in the showroom of a local garage.
When results were finally totalled up at Glendalough it was announced that Hopkirk was in the lead by 5.6 marks, followed by Elford with 6.6 and Maurice Acheson/J. Long in a privately entered Mini-Cooper third with 13.2 marks lost. Fourth at this stage was Melia’s G.T. Cortina with 13.6 marks, while Charlie Gunn in another Cortina was fifth with 14.4 marks lost.
AFTER breakfast and an hour’s rest the drivers set off again to the next special section two miles away at Knockrath which was cleaned by a number of the leaders including Hopkirk, Elford, Seigle-Morris, Melia, Acheson and Gunn. McCartney, who was striving hard with the Renault against much faster opposition, lost 0.8 mark, while John McClean/Robin English dropped 0.9 mark in their Mini-Cooper.
At the next special section at Aghavannagh no fewer than 25 of the competitors were clean over the 4.7 mile section while the next one at Rathgormuch did nothing again to change the position among the leaders. The Punchbowl, always a favourite hill in the rally, wasn’t on for anyone, Hopkirk producing the best performance by dropping 0.1 mark followed by Elford, who lost 0.2. Acheson, still fighting his way up through the leaders from his seeded position of 14th, lost 0.3, while Seigle-Morris was next with 0.4.
The next special stage at Clogheen — a mixture of good tarred roads and rough forestry tracks over 6.7 miles — was one of the most exciting of the rally. Here Elford pulled back some of Hopkirk’s lead by returning the best performance and losing 1.8 marks against 2.5 by Roger Clark, 3 by Seigle-Morris and 3.3 by Hopkirk. This stage saw the end of McCartney’s challenge for he was forced out with trouble in the gear selector. This left only one of the three works Renaults running in the event, Kevin Diffley retiring early in the day when he hit the bank and bent the front suspension.
There were special sections at Knocknagappul and Gortnaghane before the leading cars reached Killarney around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon with the knowledge that now only fractions of a point were separating Hopkirk and Elford for the overall lead.
During the overnight stop, with the cars in parc fermé, a protest was lodged by Seigle-Morris of the Ford works team against the setting out of the Tulip cards used during the rally – a protest which was upheld by the stewards. Although affecting one or two places down the ﬁeld, it didn’t alter the position at the top where Elford had now taken the lead from Hopkirk by 0.7 mark. In third place overall was Brian Melia, with Acheson fourth and Gunn and Clark tied for the next place.
It was around 8 a.m. on Sunday morning when Hopkirk took the Mini out of the parc fermé to do battle in the day drive through the mountains of Kerry and West Cork, heading off first of all to Moll’s Gap, a 7.8 mile stage on which he lost 2.3 marks against 3.9 by Elford – an effort which put Hopkirk back again in the lead. Third best here was Seigle-Morris with 4.9 marks lost, while Clark was fourth with 5.3 marks.
The next special stage at Caragh didn’t change the position, with the section being cleaned by all the leading drivers, but at Ballaghbeama Hopkirk improved his position by losing just 4.2 marks against 5.1 marks by Elford, with Seigle-Morris and Clark tied for third place with 5.9 marks.
Up and down the Tim Healey Pass, through the special section at Bull’s Pocket and the climb at Borlin, Hopkirk maintained his lead but it was Elford who was fastest through Mullaghanish with 1.3 marks lost against 1.9 by Hopkirk and 2.2 by Seigle-Morris.
At the end of this stage Hopkirk had now lost a total for the rally so far of 27.1 against 29.5 by Elford. Third was Gunn’s Cortina with 48 marks lost, fourth the Cortina driven by Clark with 48.4 marks lost and fifth Seigle-Morris with 48.5. In the classes the Harkness/Henderson Saab was beginning to gain ground in the section for touring cars up to 850 c.c., with the lead being disputed between the Minis of Catherwood/Pugh, Hudson-Evans/Morgan and Regan/Breslin. John McClean had suffered a severe penalty in the 850cc-1,150cc touring class by clocking in 20 secs. too early at a control. On top of this the car had lost all gears except first and second, but he was continuing to put up some very fast times and wasn’t letting the Colin Andrew/Donald Grieve Mini-Cooper too far out of his sight.
The 1,151-1,300cc touring class was firmly controlled by Maurice Acheson, while Elford, Gunn and Seigle-Morris were dominating the 1,600 c.c. class. The opposition to Ken Shields’ Vauxhall Cresta was diminishing in the class for touring cars over 1,600cc, with a similar car driven by Barrett/du Moulin already out.
Hopkirk, of course, led the grand touring class up to 1,300cc with the Tiny Lewis/Robin Turvey Hillman Imp second. In the large grand touring class Roger Clark was in the lead from Charles Eyre-Maunsell/Alex Spence (Sunbeam Alpine) with Roy Fidler’s Triumph 2000 in the vicinity.
Setting off North again on Easter Monday morning there was considerable excitement when it was heard that the universal couplings on Hopkirk’s Mini were giving trouble and that Stuart Turner had decided that both should be changed. By throwing the car on its side just out of sight of the main road the near side one was changed between the second and third control of the day, while a couple of hours later in a little garage in the village of Doon, the other side was changed by the same method, the job being timed at 12 mins.! (On an Ulster Television programme the day after the rally the B.M.C. mechanics accepted a challenge to do the same again under the eye of the cameras. This time it took 14 mins.)
On this stage, which ended with a meal break in Athlone, the position changed considerably down the ﬁeld when the Seigle-Morris Cortina left the road on the last special stage and lost 57 mins. getting into the control at Athlone. Malcolm Templeton had an unnerving experience when an irate farmer set to his Hillman Imp with a stick and then with a large stone which broke the windscreen. He was, however, able to continue without personal injury. Another car which was looking the worse of the wear at Athlone was the John la Trobe/Julian Chitty Sunbeam Rapier which had damaged both near and off-side front wings and which was bearing the scars of some very quick welding jobs.
At the end of this stage Hopkirk had lost a total of 30.6 marks against 33.2 by Elford, with Clark now up into third place at 55.2. Fourth was Brian Melia’s Cortina with 56.8. while Gunn was sixth with 65.1 marks lost.
Now off on the last stage of the rally which took the remaining competitors North through Donegal to Londonderry and then across Northern Ireland to Larne, the cars had to visit 31 time points during the night as well as taking part in six special stages. Among the casualties of the night was the Eyre-Maunsell Alpine, which left the road, and Pat Barr’s Mini-Cooper, both of which were unable to continue in the rally
When the final results were announced later that evening in Larne it was clear that Hopkirk had improved on his position during the night to finish with 53 marks lost against 63 marks against Elford, with both crews having completely clean sheets on the road — a reflection on the standard of navigation set by both Harryman and Stone. This ding-dong battle which lasted from start to finish will no doubt be remembered for some time to come and was never really settled until both cars had clocked in at the final control in Larne.
Alan Platt, who brought the Ford works team to Ireland for the first time, must have been very satisﬁed with the results he got, for Cortinas filled five of the first seven places, took the team award and cleaned up two class awards. Rootes were less fortunate than usual in this year’s event. Tiny Lewis being placed eighth overall and second in his class with Rosemary Smith third in the same class and winner of the ladies’ award.
1, P. Hopkirk/T. Harryman (Mini-Cooper S) 53 marks lost;
2, V. Elford/D. Stone (Ford Cortina G.T.) 63.0;
3, R. A. Clark/R. J. Porter (Ford Cortina G.T.) 88.4;
4, B. Melia/G. Davies (Ford Cortina G.T.) 94.4;
5, C. Gunn/R. Foote (Ford Cortina G.T.) 109.9;
6, M. Acheson/J. Long (Mini-Cooper) 123.3;
7, G. McNamara/B. Cusack (Ford Cortina G.T.) 132.1;
8, I.D.Lewis/R. Turvey (Hillman Imp) 144.7.
Touring Cars up to 850cc:
1, C. Harkness/N. Henderson (Saab), 287.6;
2, I. S. Catherwood/F. Pugh (Mini), 355.1;
3, G. R. Hudson-Evans/A. D. F. Morgan (Mini), 427.0;
Touring Cars 851-1150cc:
1, C. Andrew/D. Grieve (Mini-Cooper) 188.4;
2, J. S. McClean/R. G. English (Mini-Cooper) 201.1;
3, M. J. Johnston/I. Allen (Mini-Cooper), 234.5.
Touring Cars 1,151—1,300cc:
1, M. Acheson/J. Long (Mini-Cooper) 123.3;
2, C. Vard/B. Geary (Mini-Cooper) 182.1;
3, L. Fitzpatrick/B. Doyle (Mini-Cooper) 207.2.
Touring Cars 1,301—1,600cc:
1, V. Elford/D. Stone (Ford Cortina G.T.) 63.0;
2, B. Melia/G. Davies (Ford Cortina G.T.) 94.4;
3, C. Gunn/R. Foote (Ford Cortina G.T.) 109.9;
Touring Cars Over 1,600cc:
1, K. Shields/P. Lyster (Vauxhall Cresta) 161.8;
2, J. Cotton/G. Garrey (Peugeot) 438.6.
Grand Touring Cars up to 1,300cc:
1, P. Hopkirk/T. Harryman (Mini-Cooper S) 53 marks lost;
2, I.D.Lewis/R. Turvey (Hillman Imp) 144.7;
3, Miss R. Smith/S. O’Clery (Hillman Imp) 200.9.
Grand Touring Cars Over 1,300cc:
1, R. A. Clark/R. J. Porter (Ford Cortina G.T.) 88.4;
2, R. Fidler/J. Porter (Triumph 2000) 156.8;
3, J. D. L. Melvin/H. Wilson (Sunbeam Tiger) 161.5.
U.A.C. Trophy, Gallaher Trophy, Autosport Trophy and Killarney Trophy: Hopkirk.
Bryson Trophy: Acheson.
Castlereagh Trophy: Gunn.
Oonagh Reid Trophy: Elford.
Novice Trophy: J.A. Stevenson/F. Gallaher (Mini-Cooper).
Ladies’ Trophy: Rosemary Smith.
Koni Shock Absorbers: Roger Clark.
Team Award: Cortina G.T.s (Elford, Seigle-Morris, Melia)
1, C. P. Bourke/S. Cox (Mini-Cooper), 1.2 marks lost;
2, K. G. Carson/V, McBurney (Austin-Healey Sprite), 8.8;
3, W Mullen/J. Perrot (Hillman Imp). 26.6;
4, R. J. Eakin/M. Crawford (Volkswagen), 27.2;
5, R. Mullen/P. Thompson (Mini), 30.8;
6, P. C. Cullen/R. Murphy (M.G. Midget), 35.8.
Class winners: R. Mullen; W. Mullen; P. Bourke; J. Eakin; G. Carson.
Knockmanny Trophy: C. P. Bourke.
Paddy Hopkirk Trophy: Miss V. McCune.
Ladies Trophy: MISS V. McCune/Miss R. Kinneai,
Team Prize: Team Y (S. Moran, C.P. Bourke, B.F. Cullen).